Fri Feb 13 2015
- Sat Mar 21 2015
© Johan Persson
Juliet Stevenson (Winnie)
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Fri Jan 31 2014
It’s the most delightfully whimsical depiction of the crushing awfulness of human existence in stage history: Winnie, the heroine of Samuel Beckett’s 1961 ‘Happy Days’, is buried up to her waist in sand, prattling nervously as she tries to make the most of her dire straits. Her only company is her useless husband Willie who won’t, for whatever reason, dig her out. She also has a big bag of junk including, alarmingly, a gun that keeps floating to the top; oh, and a giant cosmic alarm clock blares every time she threatens to nod off.
Winnie is normally played as an Irishwoman, but ‘Happy Days’ is a staggeringly apt allegory for the quiet desperation that is the English way, something expertly, painfully teased out in this Young Vic revival by it star Juliet Stevenson. Speaking in her own accent, it’s a quivering stiff-upper-lip of a performance: brittle, sad and brave.
Despite the literal absurdity of the set-up, neither Stevenson nor director Natalie Abrahami milk Winnie’s plight for the usual early laughs: nervous and fragile, this Winnie isn’t in denial. She knows she is literally sinking, and every declaration that this is a ‘happy day’ comes because saying so out loud is a way to choke down her hysteria.
There is humour, much of it from David Beames as Willie, with his vulgar grunts and ineffectual interjections. Though Beckett’s play is really about the isolation that will claim our lives if we don’t look out for each other, if we don’t love each other, if we don’t talk to each other, the man wasn’t afraid of smuggling in a few LOLs about the general rubbishness of blokes, which Abrahami cheerily plays for laughs.
Nonetheless, Beames does great work with his small role: the final moments here are utterly devastating, as the pathetic Willie attempts to climb Vicki Mortimer’s shingle set towards his now totally buried wife. For the first time Stevenson’s eyes glitter with something like triumph: but is that because he’s heading for her or for the gun in the sand in front of her ? A troubling triumph.
Young Vic The Cut
- Event phone:
020 7922 2922
- Event website:
Theatre. Drama. Off-West End
Happy Days 2015
- Date Time Price information
Fri Feb 13 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Sat Feb 14 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Mon Feb 16 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Tue Feb 17 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Wed Feb 18 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Thu Feb 19 201519:00£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Fri Feb 20 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Sat Feb 21 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Mon Feb 23 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Tue Feb 24 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Wed Feb 25 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Thu Feb 26 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Fri Feb 27 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs
Sat Feb 28 201519:30£10-£35. Runs 2hrs